Monthly Archives: September 2011

Wending Home

In which nothing at all disastrous happens.

So there we were, driving along the highway, just like we’d been doing nearly every day for almost two weeks. It was a long stretch of I-10 that runs from New Orleans all the way through the Florida panhandle, and it would be a while before we drove on any other roads that day. I was in the passenger seat, and traffic was moderately heavy, the kind where it seems like you should be able to move faster than in reality you can. We were stuck behind a truck, waiting for the traffic to clear in the other lane. Then all of a sudden, it happened.


A tap, a richochet, a tiny rock flying off into the distance, and we were left with a little shrimp shaped dink in our windshield. I took a picture of it.

Well now what? —┬áthe inevitable next question. We decided it was better to get it fixed sooner rather than later, and figured we should find a body shop in the next large enough town. Which led to the next question.

Where are we?

We were a long way from New Orleans and a long way from where we were going. We were pretty sure that we were still in Alabama, but didn’t know precisely where or, as would turn out to matter, what time zone. Time zones – tricky things.

A sign loomed up. We were nearing Mobile. Excellent. They definitely have body shops there. We used all the gadgets to call one, and a very nice man told me that they didn’t do windshields, but he could direct me somewhere that did. I ended up on the phone with a very nice lady somewhere in the upper midwest in their centralized scheduling center. She didn’t know what time zone we were in either, but had a map of time zones (yes!), set us straight and gave us an appointment in Mobile.

We kept driving as I talked to our insurance company, who said that it would be covered and transferred me back to my nice lady friend in the midwest. I had a slight problem I needed to clear up with her.

By this point, we were waaaaaaaay past Mobile.

She was unfazed, set us up with another location in Pensacola, and we drove on. We got there, they had our paperwork, and fixed us right up while we ate lunch. We were both thrilled and flabbergasted. Because all this bureauacracy worked just like it was supposed to! That shouldn’t really be flabbergasting I know, but come on, it totally is. Everyone was pleasant, everyone did their jobs, no one gave us a hard time, and the windshield looks awesome.

It totally takes the drama out of the story that we didn’t have to contend with more bothersome people, but it restored my faith in humanity just a little.

So thanks, nice lady on the phone at Safelite. And thanks, nice man in Mobile that had us call them. And thanks to you too, giant insurance company, for covering the repair. Sometimes, miraculously, it all works out.

And that’s the story of our very mundane road trip miracle. See you never again, shrimp-shaped dink! Vanquished.


The sights you see

I have to start the road trip recap by backing up a little bit. Before we went to San Antonio, we spent three days in Houston (I mentioned this a bit in “Being There”). I don’t feel like I did it justice. We had a wonderful time.

Visiting my parents for me is always a very satisfying mix of being on vacation and staying at home. Even though I have to travel, it’s to the place where I grew up, so there are no unfamiliar cities to navigate, which is nice. But, vacation-style, it’s not like I have to work while I’m there. And Mama cooks for me. And we go out and eat Tex-Mex. And maybe my dad will grill something and we will sip cocktails on the back porch while he does. Heaven.

Did I mention the adorable dog? There’s also an adorable dog.


On this trip though, we also did a little bit of seeing the sights, which is something I almost never do in my own home town. It was a total blast. We went up the tallest building downtown and wandered a funky antique store, and on another day scouted out a hole-in-the-wall Tex-Mex place, just like you do on vacation. We had steak at our favorite steakhouse, which I’m sure shows up in all the guidebooks, and I sighed and said, “This is how steak should be!” I loved being a Fake Houston Tourist. I live in a super-touristy city, so I’m used to being a Fake DC Tourist, when the mood strikes (though I always stand on the right on the escalators — let’s not go crazy here). East-coasters, it’s a little known fact but Houston is a pretty cool town too, and the fun to be had there should not be overlooked.

It’s easy to overlook what’s in your own backyard, Dorothy from Kansas taught us, and I think this trip might have taught me that too. Along the highways we found beautiful vistas around many a bend. When we were lost we stumbled upon an art gallery owner with a fascinating life story. When we needed a place for lunch, more likely than not some perfectly adorable place would pop up. Sure, we were on vacation where everything is more fun. It just made me appreciate all the more that there are cool things to be found where you least expect them.

Hi there

It appears that I abandoned you mid road trip. There we were, all the way out and none of the way home and I just STOPPED telling you anything about what was going on.

Sorry about that.

We are not, rest assured, stuck on the side of the road somewhere between here and western Louisiana. We are home, safe, sound, and with happy memories. This means, of course, that we completed the trip successfully (look, Mom and Dad, we did it!) that there needs to be a road trip recap about, well, the rest of it.

Teaser: At one point DISASTER was averted.

Yeah, you totally want to hear about the rest of it now, right?

Thanks for reading.